Author Archives: prairiepond

And now, for something completely different…

Ok, this is what happens when I’m snowed in and “home alone” for four days….

Remember the funny “Cows With Guns” I’ve posted before?

If not, here’s the linky

Dana has a new one out called “Three Legged Coyote”. Here’s a link to Harvey Wasserman’s review of it.

I thought you might enjoy it.

I think we could all use a laugh today!


Filed under Uncategorized

The Biggest Hole in My Pocket

Like many of you, my personal health insurance is going up in November by a factor of over twenty-five percent. I’m caught in the aging baby boomer dilemma of needing to keep myself covered, because at my age, I’m just a walking pre-existing condition.  But I have to wonder how long I can continue paying almost half of my income for health insurance.  And all the while, a hell of a lot of the remaining half needs to be dedicated in reserve for taxes, including taxes that are health care related.

I’ve been thinking lately that while most people say they are “worth more dead than alive” as a joke, for me, it’s rapidly becoming a reality. I wonder if I’m not better off just dropping my health insurance now and facing the future without it.  I mean, why pay another year of half my income when the health insurance companies tell us it’s going to get worse, not better, before I reach Medicare age?  If I’m going to be forced, because of cost, to drop it next year, is it really worth it to continue it this year?  I could maybe hold on and hold my nose and write the obscene checks for another year if I thought health care reform was going to help people like me.  But it doesn’t sound like anything being considered on Capital Hill is going to help self-insured people like me, and even if it did, it won’t take effect for another four years.  And now they’re talking about mandatory insurance? Does anyone up there realize that’s like a mandated tax of at least fifty percent of my income? Does anyone care? Continue reading


Filed under Healthcare, Kansas, Original writings

A Beacon Goes Dark

It was the end of another American cultural icon last week, as TV’s longest continually running show, Guiding Light, sailed off into the sunset. No more Reva, no more Josh, no more Bauers or Spaulding’s or Springfield drama. And all I can say is that I am just damned sad.

According to Wikipedia, “Guiding Light” (known as The Guiding Light prior to 1975, or simply GL) is an Emmy award winning American television program credited by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the longest-running soap opera in production and the longest running drama in television and radio history. It aired on radio from January 25, 1937 to June 29, 1956 and debuted on CBS Television on June 30, 1952.”

I confess. I used to watch “the stories” with great regularity. Not so much in recent years, but when I did watch, it was Guiding Light all the way. I remember watching it as a kid, and followed the characters and their joys and heartaches as though they were members of the family. Which, in fact, for many of us, they were.

But more than that, it was a break in the day for many women. Up early to prepare meals and do the chores of the day, mid afternoon, when the house was empty or quiet with napping children, women could sit down and escape reality for at least a short period of time. Continue reading


Filed under Life Lessons, Media

Janus Lives!

I’ve been thinking I should write something regarding the insane debate around health care reform. I’ve been reluctant to do so because I guess I’ve lost hope that any meaningful reform will happen. Surely no sane person believes that the health insurance industry will allow their puppets in congress, on both sides of the aisle, to pass anything that would help consumers and simultaneously reduce their profits. Given the powers and pocketbooks of big insurance and big pharma, anything that finally receives the blessing of both congress and the White House will be nothing more than the Health Insurance Relief and Protection Act of 2009.

But one thing I am willing to write about, at great personal peril, is that it is obvious to me Janus is alive and well and living in conservative western Kansas. Janus, you may remember from your last mythology class, is one of the Roman gods. According to Wikipedia “Janus (or Ianus) was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions.”

I think it is the two-faced nature of Janus that reminds me most of the western Kansas version of the health care debate, which, at its core, is really a debate about government spending and government programs. We are a particularly conflicted people when it comes to deciding if government money is good or bad. We can’t seem to make up our minds if government intervention is something we desire, or something we loathe. It’s confusing to me.

On one hand, western Kansas votes consistently to send conservative Republicans to Washington. The people who win the overwhelming majority of our votes say they are against bigger government, they believe with a religious fervor that government spending is bad and should be reduced, and they almost all scream like wounded banshees whenever the dreaded “R” word (regulation) is mentioned. In our neck of the woods, we like guys who have a particular distaste for anything Fox News might label as “socialism,” or “big government.”

And yet, our Senators and Congressmen support bigger cash payments from the federal treasury for farm subsidies. They support the expansion of Medicare even though it’s the original socialized medicine. And while other conservative True Believers decry Social Security as Roosevelt’s Folly, our guys support the Social Security program at every opportunity. And clearly, voters out here agree with these stands even though they are in direct opposition to the philosophy of limited government and reduced federal spending.

Hello? Janus called, and he wants his two faces back….

Just for the record, I personally think Social Security, Medicare, and some farm subsidies are good things. But I also don’t see the boogey man under my bed every time someone mentions single payer and a public health insurance option during the health care debate.  I think that out here in the hinterlands, we may find out the hard way that it’s not possible to have our government cake and eat it too.

It seems the overriding idea in Kansas is that MY government payments are good things. Expanding MY government programs to make them bigger is a good thing. But still, we vote for people who agree with our opposing thought that bigger government is bad, and real health-care reform will raise Marx from the dead.

The piper will have to be paid in Kansas if federal spending is truly reduced. Kansas receives far more federal dollars than we pay into Washington’s coffers. That’s been true for over 25 years. And in rural states, especially those with aging voters and declining populations, we don’t have the votes to swim upstream against programs that benefit urban communities. If we raise too much of a fuss about spending on their programs, we might feel the backlash against “our” programs.

You see, we are not one America anymore. We’ve allowed ourselves to be polarized into “your” and “mine” camps. We no longer care what is good for the country, but instead, we focus only on what we perceive is good for “us” and we shrug our shoulders and let the devil take the hindmost where the welfare of others is concerned.

The day of reckoning is near. Kansans will have to resolve our collective schizophrenia about whether or not federal spending is good or bad. We will be forced to look at the contradiction in believing Medicare is good but other government health care programs are bad. And we have to know that voters in other states see our farm subsidies as just another welfare program while we believe they are good investments of taxpayer dollars. We can’t sustain this duality any longer and expect to be relevant in the national debate.

Like I said, two-faced Janus lives in western Kansas, but not likely for long. We will soon have to choose which of our faces is real, and which one is fake. I only hope we choose wisely.



Filed under Community Organizing, Economics, Healthcare, History, Kansas, Political Reform

Hardware, peanuts and friends

I’ve got a sad task in this column today. I scrapped what I was writing yesterday when we received word this morning that a much-loved WaKeeney icon has left us. Mike Dreiling, our own “Mr. WaKeeney” passed away Monday night. It was a day we always knew would come, but somehow, I just wasn’t prepared, and I kept hearing the Beatles sing “I heard the news today, oh, boy”. And when I heard the news, a whole bunch of thoughts and memories came flooding back, along with a few tears.

When I was little, on our weekly visits into town, there was no place I was more excited about visiting than the hardware store. One reason was because I never failed to convince my Dad that I NEEDED some peanuts from the red and chrome 5-cent machine located on the counter. They were always the good kind of Spanish peanuts, slightly oily and very salty, with the red skins that slipped off and fell to the bottom of those little, tiny, brown paper sacks Mike would always give me. I’m not sure if it was the nuts or the cute little sacks that made me insist on peanuts at every visit.

When I was really small and scrawny (yes, there was such a time) Mike would have to help me up to reach the machine, where I carefully deposited my nickel and turned the handle. I had to hold that mini-sack exactly under the spout so as not to lose any of the precious peanuts it dispensed, and sometimes, I just wasn’t tall enough, but I could always count on Mike to help me out. Then, and only then, could I walk around the store, peanuts in hand, and look at all the stuff on the shelves.

I was never impatient to leave when we visited Mike’s store. Oh, I liked Mr. Jeffries when he was the proprietor, but it was really Mike I wanted to see. He always talked to me like I was an adult, never, ever like I was a pesky kid, which was most likely the case.

I liked to look at the pocket knives on display, always wishing and hoping that one of them would go home with me, but that never happened. Knives were not for girls, my Dad would scoff, but Mike never treated me like just a girl. He would patiently answer all of my questions about the various tools and gadgets to be found on the shelves. I especially loved the ropes of all sizes and materials that magically sprouted from a hole in the floor. Some of those ropes became leads for my 4-H steers, and some became leads for my horse, and some were just used by Dad for unknown but always interesting farm things. I knew that we could always count on Mike to give us just what we needed. He always knew things that fascinated me and he showed me how to tie knots and which rope was used for every task. Continue reading


Filed under Community Organizing, Ethics, Kansas History, Life Lessons

The not so sunny side of small town life

Our shrinking community

This week was the annual publication of estimated population numbers for communities in northwest Kansas. Of course, the news was mostly bad as more people are generally leaving the small towns in western Kansas. WaKeeney and Collyer were in the middle of the pack, with population declines of .81% and .84% respectively. So actually, with less than one percent decline in 2008, I’d say we are holding our own compared to previous drops in population. But overall, the news for small towns out here is grim in terms of population.

There are a lot of great things about living in a small town, and you’ve read about many of them right here on Page 3. I frequently wax sentimental about how wonderful rural life is, how nice it is to know your neighbors, and how different country towns are from their city cousins.

But as anyone who has lived in small towns will tell you, there is a dark side to small town life as well. I generally don’t dwell on those dark downsides, but something happened in our office this week that caused me to shelve my original column and devote this space to one of the biggest reasons new people decline to move to WaKeeney, and why many young people decline to stay or come back.

It has to do with the closed nature of local government, the lack of transparency in how “things” operate, and how difficult it is to feel welcome in WaKeeney, no matter what the flags say. When citizens are kept in the dark about how their city operates, it creates feelings of mistrust and it causes them to not participate in the political process or community activities.

Since the “new” version of the WaKeeney City Council was seated this spring, there has been a disturbing trend toward secrecy and away from open government. One of the first actions taken by the new city council was to end the public broadcasts of city council meetings, and in fact, to end recording those meetings at all. People who were not able to actually attend the regularly scheduled meetings could previously tune in to local cable tv to see the meetings broadcast live, and hear what their elected officials were doing. Those without cable could pick up a DVD recording of the meeting, and those with failing eyesight could listen to audio tapes of the meeting that were made available at city hall. All that ended when the city decided this spring to stop all recordings of city meetings.

And to make matters worse, several “special meetings” of the council were held without any notice in the local paper or even in the Hays Daily. All that was required under the Kansas Open Meetings Law was that notice be posted at city hall. However, if you are not a daily visitor down there, you, as taxpayers and voters, were effectively excluded from those meetings because you didn’t know about them. It sort of makes one wonder what was and is going on over there that is more important than the public’s right to know.

And now, given the council’s actions to end recordings of the meetings, it’s impossible for citizens to know, first hand, what is said in city council chambers at these “special” meetings, held outside the normal time frame. Yes, minutes of the meetings are available, but as anyone who has read those minutes knows, they are carefully edited and are only brief notes on what actions are taken. Discussions are not quoted and it’s hard to know who said what and which positions belong to which elected official.

So in light of all this new secrecy, and in the interest of keeping local residents informed about what goes on with your city council and your city tax dollars, the editor of the Western Kansas World submitted a request, under the Kansas Open Meetings Law, that the newspaper be informed in advance of all “special” meetings. He further requested that agendas for these meetings be sent to the newspaper in advance of the “special” meeting. It was a routine letter, simple and to the point, and it followed the formal format generally used by news media across the state.

And your Mayor, Lionel Sawyer, responded to that request in a most unusual way. On Tuesday morning, he stomped into the World office and confronted Editor Jerry Millard in a most unprofessional way. He shoved a copy of the Kansas Open Meetings Law in the editor’s face with a belligerent sneer, saying, “here, this is for you and your friends” and proceeded to stomp back out the door in a fit of pique. Customers who were in the office at the time were stunned. One of them commented that if anyone had spoken to him that way, he’d have punched the Mayor in the nose. Fortunately, Jerry has more composure than that, but everyone in the office was just stunned by the Mayor’s tantrum.

The Open Meetings Law that was highlighted by the Mayor was 5.32 H. “Agenda Provisions”. This section notes “The Attorney General has said that an agenda, when prepared, must be made available to a requester.” But it was the next sentence that the Mayor highlighted with a yellow marker. “Copies of an agenda, however, do not have to be mailed if they can be obtained at a public place.” In other words, the city wasn’t going to send any agendas to us. If we wanted them, we could come get them. Of course, we’d have to actually know about these “special” meetings before we could walk over to city hall and pick them up. It was a classic “catch 22”.

Jerry found all of this odd, as we always receive agendas, in advance of meetings both “special” and ordinary, from the Trego County Commissioners and the USD 208 Board of Education. They’ve never complained about sending anyone agendas. But apparently, Mayor Sawyer and the new city council see things differently. So Jerry set out to find what their policy is regarding sending this information to other media. Continue reading


Filed under Community Organizing, Kansas, newspapers

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet SENATOR Al Franken!

What a great day for liberals and progressives everywhere. The man the GOP couldn’t stop, and the man they swore would never be seated, SENATOR Al Franken was sworn into office today as the 100th member of the U.S. Senate.

He’s also the man Fux News was sure would turn the good ol’ boys club into a strip club, the man they said would defile the dignity of the senate with his very presence, and the man who never gave up on Minnesota or the democratic process.   SENATOR Al Franken, finally made it all the way to the big house today.

And he was sworn in using Paul Wellstone’s family bible.

Like everything Franken has done since November, that gesture alone reeks of class and respect. It was understated and subtle. Something many people never thought they’d see from Stuart, er, SENATOR Al Franken.

And Paul Krugman wrote this weekend that Franken’s dirty little secret isnt diapers. a wide stance, or financial impropriety. SENATOR Al Franken’s dirty little secret is that he is a true policy wonk in the tradition of Hillary Clinton. A guy who loves the detail of policy and the nuances of the legislative process. Imagine. He’s a serious public servant.

I think the thing I love about SENATOR Al Franken is how he’s conducted himself throughout this process. You know he could have unsheathed that rapier wit at many points. He could have eviscerated the opposition with only a smirk, a few words and a raised eyebrow. He could have gone for the laughs, mugged for the cameras, brought the house down with laughter, and made a mockery of the serious problems facing our nation.

But he didn’t.

Instead, he set an example of how grown ups act when presented with the awesome responsibilty of leadership. He’s shown dignity and grace under fire, and he’s shown compassion to his bozo of an opponent.

I’m reminded of what Vince Lombardi said. “When you get to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”  SENATOR Al Franken acts as though he’s not only “been there before”, but he also acts like he intends to stay a long time. And that has got to be good for America.

He’s made me proud, and I’ve never even visited Minnesota. Good on ya Al. I mean SENATOR Al Franken.

Paul Wellstone will finally rest in peace tonight. For once, the good guy won.



Filed under Elections, Political Reform, Populists

Fathers Day

Well, it’s Father’s Day weekend, and between barbecues, gag gift opening, and other traditional activities, you may hear someone say “thanks Dad for all you do.”  Father’s Day wasn’t something we celebrated when I was young because it usually fell during wheat harvest, which is a polite term for “collective madness” in Western Kansas.  Dad was too busy getting that crop in the bin so we could survive or thrive, depending on the yield and the price, for another year.  The “thanks” just had to wait.

My father’s been gone now thirteen years, but he remains the biggest influence in my life, and in my business adventures.  He never really thought of himself as a businessman because that was a term reserved for bankers and merchants in town.  “I’m just a dirt farmer,” he would say, as though that didn’t require any special business acumen.  But everything I know about business, finance degree not withstanding, I learned from him, standing on the edge of a wheat field.

Early in the morning, we’d get up to grease the combine, check belts and hoses, air up the tires, and gas up the trucks.  “Take care of your equipment,” he’d say, “because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  Then, before we’d hit the field, we would have a little meeting to assign duties and discuss the game plan for the day.  “Pay attention” he’d shout to someone not listening, adding “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”.  I still hear that when I’m writing a business plan.

Later in the day, when the sun was directly overhead, he’d shut off the combine and yell, “let’s go to the house and eat!”  That was unusual, because most farmers were in such a hurry that they made their wives bring sandwiches to the field.  But not us.  We went home and ate a full meal in air-conditioned comfort and watched “As the World Turns” while we rested.  He used to tell me “if you’re working too hard to feed your men and water your horses, you’re working too damn hard.”  I remember that when I’m making stupid mistakes because I’m exhausted and really need some time off.

About mid-afternoon, we’d stop to have a snack and a soda in the shade of the combine.  Of course, as a teenager, I was already talking about how I would spend my harvest wages, which were paid in bushels of wheat to be sold later.  “That crop’s not in the bin yet Sandra Kay” he’d say with a frown. “I wouldn’t spend that money yet”, and that was how I learned not to depend on future income, but live instead on what’s already in the bank.

I have lots of these memories, but the most important lesson I learned was also the most painful.  We were about midway through harvest, with half the crop still in the field, when overnight we had one of those Kansas storms you’ve probably heard about.  This one was different though, and in my bed, I heard the clatter of golf ball sized hail pound the roof of the house.  Even as a kid, I knew what that meant.  The next morning, no one could eat, and Dad and I went out alone to survey the damage.

If you’ve never seen a field completely mowed down by hail, you’re lucky, because to us, it was the saddest sight in the world.  A whole year’s worth of blood, sweat, tears, and expenses were invested in that crop, and overnight, it was destroyed.  That meant no income until next year, but the expenses for planting the next year’s crop would just keep mounting.  I was only about 10, and I started crying because I was afraid we might have to sell the farm and move to town.  (Yes, farm kids grow up early.)  For me, that would have been the end of the world.  And worst of all, it wasn’t even our fault!   I thought surely God must hate us.  Even being my Dad’s “tough little cookie” couldn’t prevent me from crying my heart out.

When Dad heard my sobs, he knelt down beside me for a minute, and rubbed his own eyes and cleared his throat.  “Why are you so upset?” he asked.  When I told him my fears, I saw him try to hide a smile.  “Sandra” he said, “you don’t have to ever worry about that.  We are not quitters.  It may not seem like it now, but the sun will come out tomorrow, the bank will loan us money, and we’ll farm another year.  It’ll be all right, I promise.  You just have to have hope, and a little faith, and not give in or give up.  It will be better next year.  Let’s go home and eat, and I’ll take you fishing today.  We’ll worry about the farm tomorrow.”

So today, on Father’s Day, I’ll just say, “thanks Dad” because I never forgot those words.  Thirty years later, when the financial skies cloud up and the hail pounds down on my business, I think of you, Dad.  I still have hope, I still have a little faith, and I try to believe it will be better tomorrow.

I think I’ll go fishing this weekend.

Prairie Pond


Filed under Life Lessons

It’s not Al Qaeda that scares me

It’s another week of bits and pieces. Although really, as I write this, my heart is singing the Stone’s “Shattered” more so than Joan Jett’s “Bits and Pieces”.

My heart is splintered into millions of pieces contemplating the cold blooded, religiously motivated murder of Dr. George Tiller. The American Taliban has won another round of domestic terrorism. Like it or not, Tiller was performing legal, and constitutionally protected medical procedures when a religious wacko assassinated him. And it was an assassination meant to intimidate other doctors performing other legal, constitutionally protected procedures. That’s terrorism, no matter how you slice it up.

Don’t like the laws? Think they are immoral, unconstitutional? Fine. In America, we have a process to change the laws. And despite winning the presidential elections 5 of the last 8 times, and conservative republicans being in control of Congress from 1994 until 2007, and republican presidents appointing the majority of the US Supreme Court, conservatives have not been able to change the laws that make abortion legal, or overturn Roe v Wade.

So what’s the next step for this lawless bunch? Assassination. Tiller is the FOURTH doctor gunned down by a religious bigot since 1993. I guess for those folks, imposing THEIR will is more important than the rule of law. Could someone tell me why these people hate the US constitution?

I’d also like to ask a question of the bigots that aided, encouraged, and supported these political assassins and terrorists over the last 16 years. My question is, how does it feel to successfully become identical to Al Qaeda? Brothers in blood and terrorism. The American Taliban “don’t need no stinkin’ laws”. They have guns and a network of domestic terrorists to support them. Welcome to the land of the “free”, the home of the brave, and the rule of domestic terrorism over law.

Chris Rock, a comedian I am sure is not popular in Bleeding Kansas, said one time that as a black man, he wasn’t nearly as afraid of Al Qaeda as he was of Al Cracker. Meaning that redneck, gun totin’ religious bigots were far more likely to be a danger to his safety than any foreigners. I’m quite sure Matthew Shepard would agree. So would James Byrd. And so do I, having had experience with the WaKeeney Taliban. So chalk up another violent win bigots. The real threat to the safety and welfare of many Americans is not coming from foreign soil. When it comes to pure terrorism, nothing stops these religious zealots determined to force their will on everyone, laws and courts be damned.

And could someone remind me when the last time a “liberal” shot up a church or assassinated someone with whom they disagreed? Yeah. I don’t know of any incident of that either. Why are those behind the guns always conservatives? The guy who shot up the church in Tennessee said he wanted to kill every Democrat in Congress. But instead, he bloodied up a church that was a reconciled congregation and accepted openly gay members and their families. That was such a crime to this bigot, spurred on by Bernard Goldberg’s book “100 People Screwing Up America” that he entered the church and killed in cold blood. And before you bring your pitchforks and torches after me, those were the killer’s words, not mine. HE said he wanted to kill every Democrat in Congress, and everyone listed in Goldberg’s book.

I don’t think you have to think too hard to understand the truth as stated in this bumper sticker: “Jesus, save me from your followers”.

Those of us who believe in religious freedom and the rule of law must not allow domestic terrorists like Scott Roeder, Operation Rescue, and the Army of God to win by murder. To do so would dishonor every American soldier who ever went into battle to defend the constitution, religious freedom, and the rule of law. People gave their lives to protect the constitution and the laws it guides. Allowing domestic terrorists to win is a slap in the face to anyone who loves democracy. Without laws, and respect for them, even when you disagree, America is no better than Afghanistan.

Anyone looking to quote scripture during this sad and blood soaked period of American history should look no further than the shortest verse in the Bible.

”Jesus wept.”

And so should we all.



Filed under abortion, Crimes, Diversity, hate groups

Food for thought, or thoughts about food!

I see in the news that there is a new warning about baby formula being contaminated with a chemical found in rocket fuel? And it is especially dangerous if the baby formula is mixed with water that is also contaminated with the same chemical?

Perchlorate is found in the water supply of many communities, and earlier this year, the EPA considered setting new limits for it but, ahem, they were busy with the economy to do it.  Perchlorate is most often found in communities with defense industries and military bases. And it is most often found in formula made of cows milk.

Couple that news with the pistachio nut salmonella contamination, the peanut contaminations, and every other bad thing in our food…Does anyone wonder why I’m so excited by the arrival today of my baby chickens? And the planting of the ‘taters and onions next week? The other veggies next month?

Additionally, my friend who has goats is helping them birth the little ones this week and has requests already, without advertising, from parents wanting goat milk for their children allergic to cows milk.  With this news, she may have more demand for her product than she can produce.  I find it significant that folks out here are looking for goat’s milk and finding it by word of mouth.

And yet, the goat feed for pregnant mothers has things in it we cant pronounce, and I get drift from the chemicals my farmer neighbors spray, enough that I cant grow grapes.  The chick starter feed has antibiotics in it, and my own, supposedly pure, Downer Creek well water has lots of nitrates from years of fertilizer leaching into the water supply.

I guess we do the best we can with what we have. But it’s damn scary to think about how insecure our food supply really is. I dont think its “terrorists” who will kill us. It’s the karma of our own environmental misdeeds that will do us in.


Filed under The Environment

Retirement Blues

So by now, most of the news hounds here have already heard this, but my heart just dropped when I read this from the AP.

“WASHINGTON – Just months before the start of last year’s stock market collapse, the federal agency that insures the retirement funds of 44 million Americans departed from its conservative investment strategy and decided to put much of its $64 billion insurance fund into stocks.

Switching from a heavy reliance on bonds, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation decided to pour billions of dollars into speculative investments such as stocks in emerging foreign markets, real estate, and private equity funds.

The agency refused to say how much of the new investment strategy has been implemented or how the fund has fared during the downturn. The agency would only say that its fund was down 6.5 percent – and all of its stock-related investments were down 23 percent – as of last Sept. 30, the end of its fiscal year. But that was before most of the recent stock market decline and just before the investment switch was scheduled to begin in earnest.

No statistics on the fund’s subsequent performance were released.”


As if it wasnt bad enough that upper end baby boomers are losing lots of equity in our homes and other real estate investments, our 401(k)’s have sunk low enough to walk under a closed door with a top hat on, and the future of Social Security is still a big question mark… the folks who have guaranteed pensions are facing this?


I think this is a perfect example of what six asked today when he queried “who’s watching the watchers?”  Where was the congressional oversight on this subject? Where were the regulations governing how this money could be invested?  Unfettered free market capitalism strikes again.

Someone who’s as paranoid as I might wonder if this is a continuance of the jihad on unions and the working class. Or if it’s another case of incompetence? Investments Gone Wild? Peer pressure to perform amazing financial feats without a net?

I’m betting the latter.  People who make investments for a living are incredibly competitive. It’s part of what makes them good at what they do. And I’m sure there was pressure during the greed boom about “why arent OUR investments getting that rate of return?”  They couldnt stand it and jumped in, only to find the water over their heads.

It doesnt look good for those of us facing retirement in ten years or less.  If I were a betting person, I’d be putting my money in cat food stock. Because without real estate equity, 401(k)s, guaranteed pensions, and Social Security, there’s going to be a bunch of us gray hairs fighting the cats for their cheap tuna.

What the hell should we be doing to plan for retirement? Brushing up our resume’s?


Filed under Populists, The Economy

Filed under Color Me Surprised

Robert Gates is saying we should not expect a change in “Dont Ask Dont Tell” anytime soon. The AP is saying this:

“Defense Secretary Robert Gates says both he and President Barack Obama have “a lot on our plates right now.” As Gates puts it, “let’s push that one down the road a little bit.”

The White House has said Obama has begun consulting with Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on how to lift the ban. Gates says that dialogue has not really progressed very far at this point in the administration.”

And in other bad news…

The Kansas Non-Discrimination Statute Proposal is dead, again, for this year. The Kansas Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, on a 5-3 vote, recommended the full Senate approve a measure to make sure no one could be fired from their job for being nothing other than gay. That was the good news.

The bad news is that on Monday, March 23, Senate President Steve Morris, through his own authority, sent this bill back to the Federal and State Affairs committee.

According to Kansas Jackass, this means that “instead of having the bill sit on the calendar waiting for a debate, it goes back to the committee that already voted it out once, and waits for next year’s legislative session, when it will again get voted out and will, again, wait on the calendar for its day of floor debate.

The committee still supports the bill, the bill isn’t actually dead- matter-of-fact, it’s still quite alive- and will be back in 2010.”

All in all, it’s not been a good week for gay folks.


Filed under GLBT Rights

A budget without numbers is like a fish without a bicycle

It seems the obstructionist republicans in congress have been sufficiently pushed into a corner regarding their own budget proposal that they HAD to finally come out with one. And it’s a doozy.

It’s a budget without numbers. Yep. The ultimate monument to ideology.  Hey, who needs hard financial analysis, serious number crunching, and economic projections when you have ideology? Not these guys, apparently.  Perhaps they think shouting  a verb, a noun, and 9/11 will make all our economic woes go away. In fact, I heard that instead of projecting revenues, never mind expenses, they had a pow wow and decided that if they just blamed the decline of 401(k)s and western civilization on the gays, that the Dow would rise, Kos would fail, and taxes would go down.

It’s a classic example of why they lost last November. They really believe voters are that stupid. That we wouldnt notice their proposed alternative to a real budget had no numbers. I mean, they got away with the majority of voters not noticing the Chimperer had no clothes, so I guess they thought it would not be a big jump to assume that voters wouldnt notice their brilliant budget plan had no numbers.

But while they are busy posing and preening for their koolaide drinking base, they missed noticing that most voters are looking for real answers and substance, and not just more bright and shiny objects. And any thinking person knows, the reason they rushed out this half baked budget sans numbers is that the media has been pressing them for alternatives, not poses. And they only have one answer to any challenge facing our government.

Cut taxes for the rich.   And when that fails to generate excitement among the voters, follow it up with “no”. They treat voters like children, saying “because I said so” when asked “why?” on any subject.

I know it’s cliche, but it fits so well here. If the only tool you have is a hammer, all the world looks like a nail. Cliches are here for a reason. They are true.   The republicans  havent had an original economic idea since Arthur Laffer told us that cutting taxes would produce more revenue. And that was a BAD original economic idea.  It took Bill Clinton to even make a move toward reducing deficits, and George the Lessor Bush made sure to wipe that progress from the slate in favor of more red ink.  And just for added good measure, Cheney signaled his minion faithful that “Ronald Reagan proved deficits dont matter”. How’d that work out for America?

A budget without numbers is just what we’ve come to expect from the Gang That Couldnt Shoot Straight.  When you are the party of “ideology uber alles” pesky things like numbers just obscure the real message. And that message surely is, “cut taxes for the rich or we’ll shoot this dog”.

I say call their bluff and let ’em shoot.  With their level of competence, they are sure to miss the dog, even at point blank range. They are likely to miss the fish in the barrel too.  Presumably, the fish will still be there because they didnt have any bicycles to ride away on. The republicans in Congress are one trick ponies when it comes to budgets.

And they arent even trying to hide it anymore.


Filed under Political Reform